Undisputed UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman maintains former-foe, Colby Covington made as he put it, a “huge mistake” in his refusal to take a short-notice March 13th. headlining spot against fellow contender, Leon Edwards.
Usman, who is fresh from his third successful title retention, knocked back former Sanford MMA teammate, Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 a fortnight ago, stopping the Brazilian with third round strikes, is now campaigning for a full-camp rematch against Jorge Masvidal.
Despite already taking home a shutout unanimous decision win over the BMF champion back at UFC 251 in July last on ‘Fight Island’, the Auchi native claims he wants to leave Masvidal with no excuses this time around, following his six-day notice draft-in last summer.
Originally, it seemed the next welterweight title challenge following Burns would come in the form of either the above mentioned, Edwards or then-scheduled foe, Khamzat Chimaev. Still dealing with numerous health issues amid a positive COVID-19 test result late last year, Chimaev was forced to withdraw from the March 13th. main event against the streaking Edwards.
In his place steps another victor from UFC 258 — the surging, Belal Muhammad who makes his main event debut under the UFC’s scrutiny. With the UFC planning to initially field a March 13th. matchup between Covington and Edwards in an almost certain title-eliminator, Covington explained that he had no interest in possibly doing “charity” for Edwards by taking a short-notice bout.
Speaking with MMA Junkie recently, defending champion, Usman told how he believes Covington made quite the error refusing to matchup with Edwards on short-notice — missing the opportunity to remind fans of his presence following his September stoppage win over Tyron Woodley.
“I think he (Colby Covington) made a huge mistake, a tremendous mistake,” Usman said. “Who turns down a paycheck? He turned down a paycheck. That’s horrible. You can’t do that. I mean, maybe he’s not hurting for money. But you can’t turn down a paycheck. Then on top of it, you turned down a chance to really remind the fans.”
“I understand, you’ve got to win,” Usman said. “But that’s one win in how long? (Tyron) Woodley’s coming off a two-fight, three-fight skid. It’s a tough one to basically say, ‘Oh, all right, you’ve got one win. You’re back.’ For a guy that’s coming off a two, three-fight skid, that was a tough one.“
With Covington’s decision against some philanthropic efforts as he claims, that may leave him as he odd man out at 170-pounds, especially if he hopes to challenge for Octagon gold in his next outing.
Usman seems keen on a rematch with Masvidal, as does the Floridian. And with Edwards slated to return against Muhammad, that would leave Covington in need of a win over someone like the above mentioned, Burns or former two-time title challenger, Stephen Thompson to catapult him to contention again.
Covington claimed the interim welterweight crown against former lightweight best, Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 225 in June of 2018, with nasal surgery sidelining him and resulting in his stripping of the title. Challenging for undisputed spoils at UFC 245 in December of 2019, Covington dropped an eventual fifth round knockout loss to Usman in an instant classic matchup.